For the moment, Goodell is hiding behind the shield of the legal system and buying time until Vick is free from house arrest at the end of July. If you think the talk is heavy now regarding Vick, wait until then.
Any team taking a shot at Vick (assuming Goodell gives him the green light) certainly will fall squarely under the media microscope. That team will also be the recipient of criticisms and the target of outcries pouring from the many organizations whose sole purpose is to prevent the abuse of animals and household pets. Picket signs will litter that team’s facilities and every game both home and away will be disrupted by protestors. The recreational value of those games will drop precipitously as a result.
The team that adds Vick to its roster will also inconvenience its organization on several levels. The ensuing media circus will prove to be a major distraction to the acquiring team’s players and coaches. Plus in an economy where advertising dollars spent are overanalyzed, such an unpopular move might push significant sponsorships away from Vick’s prospective new team.
The acquiring team’s sales efforts will be undermined. Some fans will turn away.
Is a player that brings so much baggage and one who potentially won’t even start at quarterback really be worth it? Does a player with questionable upside justify the considerable and near certain downside?
And let’s not forget the Atlanta Falcons in this Vick saga. Here’s a team that still controls the rights to Mike Vick. Releasing or trading Vick will trigger a cap hit estimated at $7 million. Maybe they will want at least some token compensation for their considerable losses.
It’s a sad, sad situation.
Mike Vick had the world in the palm of his hand and he threw it all away to enable the ugly and heinous world of dog fighting. Stupid just doesn’t begin to describe Vick’s choices. His family and generations of Vicks would have been provided for forever if only he played out his contract and managed a public image that attracted hordes of endorsement opportunities.
What motivated Vick’s behavior? Why would someone who has it all risk it all? How could someone be so selfish and possess such a strong sense of self-entitlement that in their minds they hover above the law? Clearly any and all criticisms of Vick’s behavior, choices or attitudes are deserved.
But when is enough, enough?
Hasn’t Vick already paid an extreme price for his transgressions? Isn’t it time to see if the severe punishment has delivered a rehabilitated man? Isn’t it time to see if he can somehow after the journey from the penthouse to the outhouse communicate what he’s learned and perhaps reach someone out there, maybe even another public figure, and convince them to amend his or her ways?
Vick doesn’t have to deliver a Jimmy Valvano speech to inspire. He just needs to show through action not words that he is sincerely remorseful.
When Michael Irvin paraded around with strippers and cocaine, wasn’t he given another chance more than once?
What about former West Virginia roommates Pacman Jones and Chris Henry?
Remember Leonard Little?
After a drunken birthday in 1998, Little crashed into and killed another motorist. When tested, his blood alcohol level measured 0.19 percent, 0.11 over the legal limit of 0.08. Little received 90 days in jail, 4 years probation and 1000 hours of community service as part of an involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Fast forward to 2004 after the conviction was wiped from his record, Little was again arrested for drunk driving after failing three sobriety tests. The behavior didn’t stop the Rams in 2006 from signing Little to a 3-year $19.5 million contract extension that included a $6.1 million signing bonus. He’s still a Ram.
We all know the Ray Lewis story. Two men died in an altercation after Super Bowl XXXIV and Lewis plea bargained to obstruction of justice and then paid a fine of $250,000. He was placed on probation for a year but not suspended by the league.
All of these players got at least a second chance – some more. One could argue that their behaviors and actions were more threatening to society than Vick’s.
Irvin is now in the Hall of Fame. Lewis is headed there while Vick wallows in the Hall of Shame.
Vick like so many athletes and entertainers in the past will talk the talk of remorse. But will he walk the walk? We don’t know, but it’s time we find out.
Vick will be a legally free man come July 24, just in time for most NFL training camps. Yet perhaps the best thing for Vick and any would-be suitors for his services would be to sit out the 2009 season. Then he would have an opportunity to show remorse, to engage his community and restore some goodwill. In 2010, he could take the field at the age of 30 (a relatively young age for the position of quarterback) with far less backlash from activists. The wait could also invite more options for this gifted athlete.
Meanwhile Vick’s new construction job awaits him in the Tidewater area of Virginia.